Collection

Best of the 70s

Curated by NZ On Screen team

The decade of fondue and flares also cooked up colour television. Our black and white living room icons — from Selwyn Toogood to Space Waltz — melted into a Kiwi kaleidoscope of Top Town, Grunt Machine, and Close to Home. And 'our stories' and rights fights — boks, hikoi, nukes and 'nam — echoed onscreen (Sleeping Dogs, Tangata Whenua). Ready to roll?

L&P Top Town - 1986 Final

Television, 1986 (Full Length)

This long-running travelling TV game show pitted towns against each other in a series of colourful physical challenges. The 1986 final takes place at Lower Hutt’s Fraser Park, where teams from Alexandra, Timaru, Whangarei (including future All Black Ian Jones) and Waihi compete for civic bragging rights. Hosted by Bill McCarthy and Paddy O’Donnell, with officials Melissa (Miss Top Town) and champion Olympic kayaker Ian Ferguson. A Taniwha, cross-dressing cheer squads, a Para Pool, and slippery slope, all make for much light entertainment malarkey.

Series

Top Town

Television, 1976–1990, 2009

This iconic travelling game show saw teams representing New Zealand towns pitted against each other, in a series of colourful physical challenges. Top Town was run over a series of weekly heats, staged in different towns on local sports fields. It leveraged nostalgia for a fast fading time when New Zealand's population (and identity) resided in rural hub towns. The series was light-hearted light entertainment gold — but the battle for civic bragging rights was serious stuff. Top Town screened for 14 years from 1976 until 1990; it returned for another season in 2009.

Top Town - 1977 Final

Television, 1977 (Full Length Episode)

This long-running travelling TV game show pitted towns against each other in a series of physical challenges. Leveraging nostalgia for a fast-fading time when NZ's population (and identity) resided in rural hub towns, Top Town was Kiwi light-entertainment gold. This 1977 final, presented by Howard Morrison and radio host Paddy O'Donnell, features short shorts, jockettes, greasy poles, 'balloon baloney', and beautiful scorer Theresa. A large crowd at Okara Park watch Timaru, Greymouth, Waihi and Woodville compete for civic bragging rights in the sun.

Top Town - 2009 Final

Television, 2009 (Full Length Episode)

For the 2009 final of this iconic Kiwi game show, Taupō — "the spiritual home of trout", according to host Mikey Havoc — takes on Whakatāne. Civic pride is, as always, on the line. The crowd at Christchurch's Jellie Park are amped as two fit and motivated teams fling their bodies against a giant, inflatable obstacle course and compete in rounds with names like Rolling Road and Roller Derby. Hosts Mikey Havoc, Marc Ellis ( whose voice is taking a beating) and Hayley Holt quiz the teams poolside, while commentator Nathan Rarere enjoys skewering a long list of sporting cliches. 

Green Garden Country

Short Film, 1972 (Full Length)

The quarter acre dream is in full flower in this colourful celebration of Kiwi gardening. Director Conon Fraser surveys the symbols (tool sheds, trimmed edges) and rituals (broken window, cricket ball), and muses on the role of gardens: from civic pride to “escape from the house”. A wide range of public and private landscapes are honoured, both reverentially — a time-lapse of blooms in Wellington's Lady Norwood Rose Garden — and whimsically — eg talking pests, and a couple rolling on the lawn in front of a knitting oldie. The film won top prize at a US Horticultural Society Festival.